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J Agric Food Chem. 2008 Jun 25;56(12):4352-8. doi: 10.1021/jf073399k. Epub 2008 Jun 4.

In vitro antioxidant and antiproliferative activities of selenium-containing phycocyanin from selenium-enriched Spirulina platensis.

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Research Laboratory for Food Protein Production and Food and Nutritional Sciences Programme, Department of Biology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, China.


Both selenium and phycocyanin have been reported to show potent cancer chemopreventive activities. In this study, we investigated the in vitro antioxidant and antiproliferative activities of selenium-containing phycocyanin (Se-PC) purified from selenium-enriched Spirulina platensis. The antioxidant activity of Se-PC was evaluated by using four different free radical scavenging assays, namely, the 2,2'-azinobis-3-ethylbenzothiazolin-6-sulfonic acid (ABTS) assay, 1,1-diphenyl-2-picryhydrazyl (DPPH) assay, superoxide anion scavenging assay, and erythrocyte hemolysis assay. The results indicated that Se-PC exhibited stronger antioxidant activity than phycocyanin by scavenging ABTS, DPPH, superoxide anion, and 2,2'-azobis-(2-amidinopropane)dihydrochloride free radicals. Se-PC also showed dose-dependent protective effects on erythrocytes against H 2O 2-induced oxidative DNA damage as evaluated by the Comet assay. Moreover, Se-PC was identified as a potent antiproliferative agent against human melanoma A375 cells and human breast adenocarcinoma MCF-7 cells. Induction of apoptosis in both A375 and MCF-7 cells by Se-PC was evidenced by accumulation of sub-G1 cell populations, DNA fragmentation, and nuclear condensation. Further investigation on intracellular mechanisms indicated that depletion of mitochondrial membrane potential (DeltaPsi m) was involved in Se-PC-induced cell apoptosis. Our findings suggest that Se-PC is a promising organic Se species with potential applications in cancer chemoprevention.

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